CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (TCD) -- A 22-year-old man accused of killing a young woman and stuffing her body in a suitcase is being held on $5 million bond in connection with her death.
Justin Chen appeared in a Hamilton County court Dec. 9, when a judge set the high bond amount. At the court appearance, WTVC-TV reports investigators reportedly shared details about 22-year-old Jasmine Pace’s death, including that she had been stabbed 60 times, wrapped in trash bags, and placed in a suitcase. Her remains were located Dec. 1.
According to WTVC, her body was reportedly in the fetal position with one arm tied to her ankles. Pace had reportedly suffered stab wounds to the upper back, shoulder, and right side.
Zach Crawford, the lead detective on the case, reportedly said Pace’s death was "the largest amount of blood" he had ever seen at a crime scene.
According to Chen’s arrest affidavit, Pace’s mother, Catrina Pace, reported her daughter missing Nov. 26, saying the 22-year-old had not been seen or heard from since Nov. 22. Catrina Pace said she tracked her last known location to Chen’s apartment. A neighbor allegedly told Catrina Pace they heard a "loud disturbance" on Nov. 23 at approximately 2:15 a.m.
On Nov. 27, Chattanooga Police executed a search warrant at Chen’s apartment and "observed blood transfer on the living room hardwood floor, bathroom grout, the master bedroom’s carpet, and blood spatter on the bathroom wall."
Detectives also found broken glass and an "extremely large Bluestar reaction on the floor in the living room, bathroom, and bedroom."
Bluestar Forensic Blood Agent is "a blood enhancement reagent whose purpose is to reveal blood stains that have been washed out, wiped off, or are invisible to the naked eye," according to the affidavit.
The affidavit says there was evidence of a "violent physical altercation" in the apartment.
On Nov. 28, Chen was reportedly seen at a local Walgreens buying peroxide, paper towels, bandages, and rubbing alcohol.
Two days later, on Nov. 30, Hamilton County District Attorney Coty Wamp said in a press conference Chattanooga Police "transitioned the missing person investigation into a homicide investigation based on evidence that came to the police department’s attention."
Wamp said they identified Chen as a suspect, and they had probable cause to arrest him on a homicide charge. They are pursuing first-degree murder charges.
A Chattanooga Police Department investigator said at the press conference Chen and Pace had been dating for "a few months."
Chen’s next court date is scheduled for Feb. 16, 2023.